Respiratory misdiagnosis is a serious situation. The term “respiratory” pertains to the patient’s lungs. The lungs take in necessary oxygen for the rest of the body to function properly. Without an adequate amount of oxygen, the patient may experience a wide variety of problems in everyday life. Lack of oxygen can make it difficult to walk, run, or carry large items. It can slow down a person’s movements and even cause brain damage.
Beginning the Medical Evaluation
The health care professional will ask the patient a couple questions, such as whether the patient smokes or has any known allergies. The physician then asks the patient to describe any symptoms he or she is experiencing. This is a key element in diagnosing all forms of respiratory ailments, so it is important to include even the smallest details of how the patient is feeling.
Typical respiratory complaints may include:
- Sneezing or Coughing
- Runny Nose
- Sore or Irritated Throat
- Lack of Energy
- Mild to Severe Headache
- Body Aches
- Diminished Appetite
- Shortness of Breath
Procedures and Diagnostic Testing
The medical practitioner will perform a list of basic procedures, such as listening to the patient’s heart and checking the patient’s blood pressure. A doctor may use a small light to inspect the patient’s throat, ears, nose, and eyes for anything that appears abnormal. In more serious cases, the physician may want to order blood work or swab the back of a patient’s throat for a sample to run tests on. If the medical professional fails to conduct further testing, or inadequately analyzes the results, a medical misdiagnosis can occur. Without proper diagnosis, the patient’s symptoms may become worse.
Some respiratory ailments may be less severe than others, and a delayed diagnosis may not actually harm the patient. In other cases, a slow or inaccurate diagnosis may be fatal. A couple of the more common respiratory problems include:
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
Chan, Edward D., and Carolyn H. Welsh. “Geriatric Respiratory Medicine(*).” Chest Dec. 1998: 1704. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 May 2012.
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Kennedy, Siobhan. “Caring for a patient newly diagnosed with COPD: a reflective account.” Nursing Standard 25.49 (2011): 43+. Academic OneFile. Web. 24 May 2012.
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